Posts Tagged ‘documentary’
September 10, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
On Sunday, I saw Salinger. Having seen the trailer, not to mention the posters, my companions and I had reason to expect a certain degree of bombast. As such, we came armed with skepticism and whiskey, hoping to hear some interesting interviews, see some neat archival footage, and learn a little something in the bargain. What we learned is that you cannot go into this movie without a highly organized game plan.
I will not attempt a review of Salinger; plenty of people much smarter and better qualified than I have done so already. What I can do, by way of a public service, is extend the following warnings to anyone who would attempt to play a drinking game while watching Salinger, because it is a road fraught with peril.
We entered into the experience with a level of naivete that, today, seems laughable. We had only one half-formed rule: whenever anyone on screen says “recluse,” everyone takes a drink. Alas! Within fifteen minutes we had depleted the miniature bottle of whiskey I had recently been given in a gift bag. The documentary clocks in at 129 minutes. On the other hand, sufficient supplies would have left us supine and slack-jawed. In order to help other moviegoers, my companions and I quickly compiled a list of warnings.
If one wishes to play a drinking game while watching Salinger, and wishes to avoid illness, potential alcohol poisoning, or complete inebriation, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do the following:
- Drink whenever a random actor inexplicably says something with tremendous authority.
- Drink whenever a random actor or writer whose career is based in areas completely unrelated to the writing and/or criticism of fiction holds forth with tremendous authority from an empty movie theater, an empty five-star restaurant, or the back of a moving vehicle.
- Drink whenever one hears the sounds of typewriter keys, presumably hard at work on mysterious manuscript that will eventually be imprisoned in vault.
- Drink whenever a reenactor who looks nothing like J. D. Salinger sits around being tortured by the world/humanity/horrors of war.
- Drink whenever horrors of war are indicated with literal battlefield sound effects.
- Drink whenever a structure commonly referred to as a “house” is described as a “bunker.”
- Drink whenever you see a covered bridge.
- Drink whenever someone who harassed J. D. Salinger talks with a total lack of embarrassment about bothering him.
- Drink when you start to feel exactly the way you did when you first saw Bambi and realized you were Man and evil and you hated yourself and humanity (which is what is really scary about Bambi, not just the shooting).
You may drink in the following circumstances:
- When you discover WHAT HAPPENED TO J. D. SALINGER.
Prepared in consultation with Matthew Colvard, Taylor Anne Lane, and Peter Wolfgang.
April 8, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
Documentary filmmaker Les Blank has died, at age seventy-seven. In memoriam, a clip from one of his many films devoted to traditional American music, The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins.
March 28, 2013 | by Tim Small
Alexa Karolinski is an old friend. I first met her in 2005, when I was the editor at VICE Italy, in Milan, and she was a particularly bright intern at the VICE Germany office. Alexa quit VICE a few months after I met her; she then moved to Paris for a while, started working in television for ARTE, met her husband, moved back to Berlin, and then moved to New York three years ago, where she studied documentary filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts. And now she is a film director. Oma & Bella, her first feature-length film, began as her thesis, and was then released in German cinemas after being accepted at the Berlin Film Festival last year. If, like me, you have any sort of fascination with World War II, food, and your grandma, it is an absolutely must-see documentary.
Oma & Bella tells the story of best friends Bella Katz and Regina Karolinski (Alexa’s grandmother), two octogenarian Holocaust survivors among the oldest surviving members of Berlin’s Jewish community, who moved in together when Regina had a hip operation. They spend most of their time cooking traditional Eastern European Jewish food, giving that food to their family, talking about food, organizing dinners, going food shopping, preparing food, washing the utensils they use to prepare food, putting food in Tupperware and freezing it, and occasionally taking a break from the food in the form of an amble to the park or the cemetery. With a delicate grace and a warm sense of humor, Alexa made one of the most touching portraits of an elderly couple―and of Holocaust survivors―I have ever seen on screen.
A few months after the movie was released, we collaborated on The Oma & Bella Cookbook. That is to say: when Alexa told me she wanted to make a cookbook that would collect the movie’s recipes, I begged her to let the Milan Review design it.
I recently got on Skype with Alexa to talk about her movie, grandparents, and food.
So, tell me—exactly when did you decide to make this movie?
It began about three years ago, when I was living in Berlin and decided that I wanted to learn how to cook. At the time I couldn’t cook anything more complicated than scrambled eggs and I decided that one day, my children—the children I don’t have yet—should be able to eat the food I grew up with. Therefore, I needed to learn that from my grandmother, and from her best friend, Bella, who she lives with. So I started cooking with them and then I kind of decided very quickly that it wasn’t enough to just cook with them, that I would have needed to write down the recipes and make a cookbook out of it.
It must have been daunting.
Yes. And they don’t cook with measurements—they go by eye—so I had to learn how to cook with them and invent the measurements just by watching them cook. So basically I started this cookbook project, and within that cookbook project I was looking for a visual landscape. And one day I kind of decided, knowing that I was going to go back to film school, to rent a camera and, just for fun, film them. Then I cut a two-minute teaser out of that, just to teach myself how to use Final Cut. And then, when I moved to New York, I showed this around, mostly just to show some friends how much I love my grandmother and how amazing she is. And people were like, This is gonna be your thesis film, and I kind of thought, Yeah, I guess it is. Read More »
November 16, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
November 6, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Writer, thinker, bon vivant, sportsman, actor, participatory journalist extraordinaire, and editor of this magazine: George Plimpton was a figure to be reckoned with. In a new documentary, Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself, the great man gets his due.
On Sunday, November 11, Plimpton! comes to DOC NYC. Join the filmmakersTom Bean and Luke Poling, along with Paris Review editor Lorin Stein, and Terry McDonell, for a special screening of the film. (Also showing Wednesday, November 14.) Get your tickets here.
August 2, 2012 | by Jillian Steinhauer
In November 2010, ArtReview magazine published its annual Power 100, a list of the most powerful people in the art world. The highest-ranked living artist, coming in at number thirteen, was the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Two months later, the Chinese government demolished Ai’s brand new, two-thousand-square-foot studio in Shanghai in one day—this despite the fact that officials had approved (and by some accounts invited) Ai’s plans for the studio, which took a year and almost a million dollars to build. Then, in April 2011, Chinese authorities took Ai into custody. Without announcing charges against him or when he would be released, they held him in detention for eighty-one days, during which time guards watched him constantly, even when he went to the bathroom or slept. He was released in June and, a few months later, charged with “economic crimes” and an accompanying bill of $2.4 million.